Seed Sovereignty

Seed Sovereignty

Bayer-Monsanto merger: An existential threat to South Africa’s food system

PRESS RELEASE

In December 2016 Monsanto shareholders voted in favour of the sale of the company to Bayer for US$66 billion, making it the largest-ever foreign corporate takeover by a German company.

Both Bayer and Monsanto are major global manufacturers of agrochemicals and seeds, including genetically modified seed. A merged entity would be the world’s largest supplier by sales of both seeds and pesticides, controlling 29 percent of the world’s commercial seed markets and 24 percent of the world’s pesticide markets. Bayer and Monsanto are major actors in South Africa’s seed and agrochemical industries. The deal will require approval from about 30 regulatory agencies around the world, including by South Africa’s Competition Commission.

The BAYER-MONSANTO merger: Implications for South Africa’s agricultural future and its smallholder farmers

This paper explores the likely implications of an approved Bayer-Monsanto merger for the South African agricultural system. It outlines the trend of consolidation occurring within the seed and agrochemical industries, provides a background to the merger, criticises the rationale given for the merger by Bayer and Monsanto and outlines concerns should the merger be approved in South Africa.

These concerns focus on the implications for South African farmers, smallholder farmers
in particular. The paper argues that further consolidation of an already corporate- controlled seed sector is not needed and that it undermines the emergence of an alternative system that would support smallholder farmers in contributing to food security in an egalitarian agricultural economy.

Download the full report in PDF

 

Against the odds, smallholder farmers maintain agricultural biodiversity in South Africa

This report is a result of research conducted in partnership with Tshintsha Amakhaya, Farmer Support Group, TCOE Zingisa and Surplus People Project. The report investigates the state of farmer-managed seed systems in rural South Africa.

Through 3 case studies in Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, the report highlights both the fragility and perseverance of smallholder farmers, who continue to maintain agricultural biodiversity and traditional knowledge, in the face of increasing pressure from all sides. Smallholder farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to make end meet in an agricultural sector dominated by large-scale commercial production and corporate value chains.

Multinational corporations dominate seed provision in South Africa, further driving a commercial and industrial Green Revolution agenda. Farmer-managed seed systems, and the diversity of crops and diets that rely on them, are marginalised and neglected in the process.
The research is one step in highlighting the threats and opportunities facing smallholders and biodiversity in an increasingly harsh production environment. ACB will continue working with our partners and smallholder farmers to support and promote sustainable farming practices and farmer-managed seed systems as part of our broader objectives to transform seed and food systems in South Africa.

Download full report in PDF format

Standing up for farmer-saved seeds, agrobiodiversity and seed sovereignty! ACB commenting on revised seed laws in South Africa

ACB submitted comments on the Plant Breeders’ Rights and Plant Improvement Bills, to the Select Committee on Land and Mineral Resources on the 24th January 2017.

These bills restrict the saving, trading, exchanging, and sale of seed. This can have massive ramifications on seed and food sovereignty, agricultural biodiversity, access to diverse seed, and increasing the disparities and inequalities in South African agriculture, food and nutrition.

ACB will continue to engage in this process to ensure that South African seed laws take into account farmer-managed seed systems, agrobiodiversity, and maintain farmer’s rights to save, reuse, exchange, and sell seed.

We invite interested parties to join this conversation, to fight for our right to seed.

 

Download the ACB Comments on the PBR Bill in pdf

Download the ACB Comments on the PIA Bill in pdf

Comments on the revised draft regulations (draft 3) for implementing the Arusha Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants

Further comments on the revised regulations (draft 3) for the implementation of ARIPO’s Arusha Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, that will be submitted for adoption in December 2016. This paper focuses on some of the most problematic aspects that needs to be rectified by ARIPO Member States as these perpetuate impingement of national sovereignty; fail to safeguard Farmers’ Rights and farmer seed systems; and to prevent biopiracy. These comments have been produced without prejudice to our very strong opposition to the Arusha PVP Protocol and our consistent position that it represents an inappropriate regional legal framework for the ARIPO region, wherein 13 out of the 19 member states are least developed countries (LDCs) and under no legal obligation to implement plant variety protection (PVP) regimes.

Download the Document in PDF

Farmer-managed seed systems in Dowa, Malawi: A legacy of eroded confidence and agricultural diversity after decades of Green Revolution implementation

This report is the product of field work conducted by ACB and Kusamala Institute for Agriculture and Ecology in Dowa district in central Malawi. The objective of the research was to deepen our understanding of the role of farmer seed varieties in smallholder production systems that have come under heavy pressure from concerted Green Revolution interventions; to look at the extent of agricultural biodiversity loss; and to identify farmer priorities in ensuring adequate diversity ad resilience of seed into the future.

Download 1,1Mb PDF Report

Mapping farmer seed varieties in Manica, Mozambique: initial investigations into agricultural biodiversity

This scoping exercise to deepen our understanding of the current context of seed use, main crops and varieties in the research localities in order to gather evidence of the ongoing importance of farmer seed systems in the agricultural practices and livelihoods of smallholder farmers, to identify cases of biodiversity loss and to use this information to build the case for the importance of protecting and supporting farmer-managed seed systems (FMSS) on the continent.

Download the Mozambique Field report

Download PORTUGUESE language of the Mozambique Field report

N2 Africa, the Gates Foundation and Legume commercialisation in Africa

This report considers the N2Africa programme, which aims to develop and distribute improved, certified legume varieties (soya, common bean, groundnut and cow pea); promote and distribute inoculants and synthetic fertiliser; and develop commercial legume markets for smallholder integration in 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa: Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana (core countries); Kenya, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe

Download the PDF report

Farmer Managed Seed Systems in Morogoro and Mvomero, Tanzania: The disregarded wealth of smallholder farmers

In this report by the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), in partnership with Mtandao wa Vikundi vya Wakulima Tanzania (MVIWATA) and Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT),  based on field work conducted in Morogoro and Mvomero in 2016. It is a continuation of a research partnership with MVIWATA and SAT started in 2014, which has focused on seed, particularly the farmer-managed seed system, and soil fertility in the context of building agro-ecology as an alternative to the Green Revolution.

Download Tanzania Field Report in
English

Download Tanzania Field Report in Swahili

ACB comments on revised Draft Regulations (Draft 2) for Implementing the Arusha Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants

The revised regulations for the implementation of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation’s (ARIPO’s) Arusha Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants continues to perpetuate the impingement of national sovereignty, fails to safeguard farmers’ rights and farmer seed systems and to provide safeguards against biopiracy. These comments, submitted to ARIPO, raise concerns and offer alternative proposals.

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Related information

AFSA Press Release: ARIPO PVP Regulations: Ferocious Campaign against Seed Saving Farmers in Africa and State Sovereignty, Monday, June 13, 2016

ACB Preliminary comments on Draft Regulations Implementing the Arusha Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants…